Global Cloud Index Projects cloud traffic to represent 95% of total data centre traffic by 2021

Kip Compton of Cisco

Cisco released the seventh annual Cisco Global Cloud Index (2016-2021). The updated report focuses on data centre virtualisation and cloud computing, which have become fundamental elements in transforming how many business and consumer network services are delivered.

According to the study, both consumer and business applications are contributing to the growing dominance of cloud services over the Internet. For consumers, streaming video, social networking, and Internet search are among the most popular cloud applications. For business users, enterprise resource planning (ERP), collaboration, analytics, and other digital enterprise applications represent leading growth areas.

Strong multicloud traffic growth projected

Driven by surging cloud applications, data centre traffic is growing fast. The study forecasts global cloud data centre traffic to reach 19.5 zettabytes (ZB) per year by 2021, up from 6.0 ZB per year in 2016 (3.3-fold growth or a 27% compound annual growth rate [CAGR] from 2016 to 2021). Globally, cloud data centre traffic will represent 95% of total data centre traffic by 2021, compared to 88% in 2016.

Improved security and IoT fuel cloud growth

In the past, security concerns have been a major barrier to cloud adoption. Improvements in data centre governance and data control have helped to minimise enterprise risk and better protect consumer information. Security innovations coupled with tangible cloud computing benefits, including scalability and economies of scale, play key roles in fueling the cloud growth projected in the study.

Additionally, the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) applications such as smart cars, smart cities, connected health and digital utilities requires scalable computing and storage solutions to accommodate new and expanding data centre demands. By 2021, Cisco expects IoT connections to reach 13.7 billion, up from 5.8 billion in 2016.

Hyperscale data centres doubling

The increasing need for data centre and cloud resources has led to the development of large-scale public cloud data centres called hyperscale data centres. In this year’s forecast, it is expected that by 2021 there will be 628 hyperscale data centres globally, compared to 338 in 2016, 1.9-fold growth or near doubling over the forecast period. By 2021, hyperscale data centres will support:

  • 53% of all data centre servers (27% in 2016)
  • 69% of all data centre processing power (41% in 2016)
  • 65% of all data stored in data centres (51% in 2016)
  • 55% of all data centre traffic (39% in 2016)

“Data centre application growth is clearly exploding in this new multicloud world. This projected growth will require new innovations especially in the areas of public, private and hybrid clouds,” said Kip Compton, vice president of Cisco’s Cloud Platform and Solutions Group.

Global Cloud Index highlights and key projections:

1. Data centre virtualisation and cloud computing growth

  • By 2021, 94% of workloads and compute instances will be processed by cloud data centres; 6% will be processed by traditional data centres.
  • Overall data centre workloads and compute instances will more than double (2.3-fold) from 2016 to 2021; however, cloud workloads and compute instances will nearly triple (2.7-fold) over the same period.
  • The workload and compute instance density for cloud data centres was 8.8 in 2016 and will grow to 13.2 by 2021. Comparatively, for traditional data centres, workload and compute instance density was 2.4 in 2016 and will grow to 3.8 by 2021.

2. Growth in stored data fueled by big data and IoT

  • Globally, the data stored in data centres will nearly quintuple by 2021 to reach 1.3 ZB by 2021, up 4.6-fold (a CAGR of 36%) from 286 EB in 2016.
  • Big data will reach 403 exabytes (EB) by 2021, up almost 8-fold from 25 EB in 2016. Big data will represent 30% of data stored in data centres by 2021, up from 18% in 2016.
  • The amount of data stored on devices will be 4.5 times higher than data stored in data centres, at 5.9 ZB by 2021.
  • Driven largely by IoT, the total amount of data created (and not necessarily stored) by any device will reach 847 ZB per year by 2021, up from 218 ZB per year in 2016. Data created is two orders of magnitude higher thandata stored.

3. Applications contribute to rise of global data centre traffic

  • By 2021, big data will account for 20% (2.5 ZB annual, 209 EB monthly) of traffic within data centres, compared to 12% (593 EB annual, 49 EB monthly) in 2016.
  • By 2021, video streaming will account for 10% of traffic within data centres, compared to 9% in 2016.
  • By 2021, video will account for 85% of traffic from data centres to end users, compared to 78% in 2016.
  • By 2021, search will account for 20% of traffic within data centres by 2021, compared to 28% in 2016.
  • By 2021, social networking will account for 22% of traffic within data centres, compared to 20% in 2016.

4. SaaS most popular cloud service model through 2021

  • By 2021, 75% (402 million) of the total cloud workloads and compute instances will be SaaS workloads and compute instances, up from 71% (141 million) in 2016. (23% CAGR from 2016 to 2021).
  • By 2021, 16% (85 million) of the total cloud workloads and compute instances will be IaaS workloads and compute instances, down from 21% (42 million) in 2016. (15% CAGR from 2016 to 2021).
  • By 2021, 9% (46 million) of the total cloud workloads and compute instances will be PaaS workloads and compute instances, up from 8% (16 million) in 2016. (23% CAGR from 2016 to 2021).

For the purposes of the study, cloud computing includes platforms that enable ubiquitous, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. Deployment models include private, public, and hybrid clouds. Cloud data centres can be operated by service providers as well as private enterprises.

Commenting on the findings, Alex Guillen, go-to market manager at Insight UK said: “The latest Global Cloud Index released by Cisco today shows the exponential growth of cloud and data centre storage, and subsequently its increasing importance for consumers and businesses alike. Because huge investments are being made into these technologies, businesses must ensure they are utilising the capabilities to their full potential.

Our own research of senior business leaders showed that 9-in-10 expect a shift in customer behaviour over the next five years, with almost half (47%) agreeing that the greatest changes will be always-on, high-speed access to cloud-based services and a willingness to engage with digital channels or assets.

“With Cisco revealing data centre workloads and compute instances will more than double between 2016 to 2021, looking at how organisations can best use datacentres in the near future, a hybrid approach will prove key.

“Whilst organisations are realising the investments of their own data centre(s) they are also looking to embrace the capabilities and versatility of the cloud. For instance, business leaders might look to store their organisations’ most critical applications on-premise.

Although improvements in data centre governance and data control in recent years means consumer information is better protected than ever before, having sensitive data stored in-house brings business leaders a ‘peace of mind’. At the same time, to reduce storage costs and run processes more efficiently, organisations will also host less vulnerable data in cloud storage technology.

“The industry will definitely continue to see an increase in cloud usage, but also with the interconnected use of on premise data centres. A combination of the two will prove indispensable for the growth of any agile organisation,” Alex concluded.

View the infographic here.

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